There is a picture somewhere out there of us at Bear Creek Park. We are with Bixby and a number of friends from school. Faculty fun day hike and doggie meet-up on a Sunday, one year ago today. In that picture, wherever it is, we look happy.
I didn’t know that Adam was internally struggling so much when we took that picture. I didn’t know that this would be the last walk I would have where I wasn’t consumed with fear and anxiety, and now grief.
You see, one year ago today the downhill began. That evening after the hike, I walked in on Adam drinking out of a gin bottle. My first internal reaction was anger, borne out of fear. But then I made the most important decision of my life.
I held him.
He cried. He was afraid. He was confused. He could not understand why he was doing what he was doing. He said, “I’m scared, honey.” So I held him, and said it was OK, and we were going to keep working and keep trying. On that day, perhaps I finally understand the power of this disease. I was too late. But I will never regret holding him.
I stayed home from work Monday, saying I was worried about him. I was right. On Monday night (tomorrow), he went into the bathroom, and five minutes later I heard the most horrible howling sound I had ever heard. I found him having a seizure. It was my first call to 911.
That week, we thought we still had it under control. He was released from the hospital in time to put our beloved Chance down on Wednesday. Yesterday, I was in the same vet room with my two kittens, and I broke down in front of the new vet, spilling my guts and fear.
We put Chance down. We came home, and two hours later Adam was vomiting blood. He said he had salsa for lunch, and that’s what it was. His denial. I knew better. Back in the hospital. A day later, the ICU was calling me to tell me they had to majorly sedate him because he tried to leave to just “get home to my wife.”
With his parents there, the doctor said “He could die or he could live.” We celebrated our Sept. 4 anniversary in the hospital.
But you can’t tell that was going to happen from that picture.
You can’t tell that a year later I could be so broken. When I most need relief, the pressure increases. They don’t want you to grieve. There are bills to pay. You can’t take a break. It’s not acceptable. You can’t run away. They want you to be better. They want you to be who you are as long as it means you look happy and smile and play the game. So you fake it, until someone who knows you too well tells you that the Oscar will go to you next year. You do what they ask even though it has no bearing on your ability to perform. Because they want comfortable. They don’t want to face their reality right now because their spouse isn’t dead. And it’s been 10 months, so get over yourself already. You pretend and pretend and pretend.
You find it harder to dress yourself in the morning again, and there’s no one to say “it’s OK honey about your clothes, because your boobs look spectacular in that new bra.”
There’s no one to laugh at you when an hour of throwing away things makes you so mentally unstable you take a four-hour nap, which just isn’t something you do.